Good Monday all. I decided to swing back towards arty this week and write a quick guide for designing a cartoon creature. As with every other tutorial I’ve ever written I’m not clamming to be any kind of expert but in this case it needs stating that there are literally thousands of more qualified people on the internet with tutorials on this subject out there. These are just some rules that I think make sense for most cartoony critters and what I keep in mind when designing them. All of these rules sort of intertwine with one another and all of this is just my opinion so take from it what you will. I’ll be using this guy as an example for each rule.
Alright, let’s get this shit rollin’.
2 or 3 colours
In my opinion, a simple creature design shouldn’t use more than a handful of colours. Think about Bugz Bunny or Mickey Mouse, how many colours are used on them? 3 or 4 max in most cases. Colour one of the first details people recall when trying to remember a cartoon character which is why It’s important to have an easily identifiable colour scheme. If they’ve got to many colours on them then the first point of recognition for you critter is effectively gone.
Less is more
Short answer. Don’t add unnecessary details. If you’ve got a good character design, stick with it. Chances are, slapping on a lot of colour bands, elaborate patterns and extra crap isn’t going to greatly improve it. I know you don’t want your creature to look featureless and boring but adding too much detail can have the same effect. If you character is too visually busy then all that detail you spent ages putting on just blends together in the mind and becomes little more than a boring flat colour. Think about Pikachu from the Pokémon franchise. All it’s got is two dots and two stripes, the rest of it’s just a solid block of colour.
Has to makes sense in its own world
This might seem weird when talking about a cartoon but your character design has to have a level of logic behind it. It has to fit in with the world it’s from. If you’re making a squirrel in a relatively normal forest, don’t start adding crap like antenna and a trench coat. Make sure it fits in with the established world.
So there are the rules I stick to. Maybe they’ll help you too if you ever want to dream up your own cartoon character.
See you next week!